Today I’m going to share with you, Is Adultery a Crime in Florida? Directly from Florida Lawyers.
Adultery to us refers to infidelity in a marriage which can be both emotional and physical but adultery in the eyes of the law is seen differently. Each state in The United States Of America sees and defines adultery in a different way. Even though emotional adultery is frowned upon by the majority of society, it does not hold up well in court.
Now the questions that arise here are: Is adultery a crime in Florida? If your spouse cheats what happens in a divorce? What is the penalty for adultery in Florida? If a spouse commits adultery, will it affect the divorce proceedings? We will explore these questions and more in this article.
How Does the State of Florida View Adultery?
Adultery is a prevalent social taboo but it has a very specific seating in the law of Florida. Even though there is no concrete definition for adultery, it is safe to say that adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person with someone who is not his or her legal spouse.
It is important to note that only sexual intercourse and nothing below that is labelled as adultery in the eyes of law. Kissing, exchange of sexual messages and photographs, etc. can be used as corroboration.
If a spouse commits adultery, evidence of the listed things alone, cannot be used as a basis for proving adultery in court but can be used to support one’s accusation. The next question in order should be: is it illegal to cheat on your spouse in Florida? Let’s find out.
Is Adultery a Crime in the State of Florida?
Now that we have defined how Florida views adultery, let’s get into its legality. So, is it illegal to cheat on your spouse in Florida? Technically, yes. The state of adultery defines adultery as a misdemeanour.
A misdemeanour is a type of offence that is punishable under the law but most misdemeanours in the U.S. are punishable by less than 12 months in prison and are generally written off with community service, probation, fines, etc.
The law of Florida, according to statute 798.01 states that adultery is a second-degree misdemeanour to be living in open adultery. But this does not mean that you can put your cheating spouse behind bars. Adultery, even though it is termed legally as a misdemeanour, it is hardly prosecuted.
How to Prove Adultery in Florida?
Concrete evidence is needed to prove adultery which is defined as extra-marital sexual intercourse. Said proof is hard to find and that is why many people chose to hire private investigators for the job, which can burn a hole in a person’s pocket.
If a spouse commits adultery, circumstantial evidence like checking into the same hotel room, text chains with acceptance of adulterous acts, etc. are most likely to be caught and they can be used to back up your claims.
Is Florida a No-Fault Marriage State?
All states in the U.S. today have adopted no-fault divorces. Before this decision was made, the process of filing for a divorce was very different. A couple needed to present a “valid” reason for the termination that had to be agreed by the judge in order for them to legally terminate their marriage.
These types of divorces are generally referred to as fault marriages or divorces and the reason presented to a judge for approval is legally termed as the grounds for divorce. But with time, more states became open to the idea of no-fault divorces.
This allows couples to apply for a divorce without any grounds that need to be approved by a judge. They can simply rule out the grounds of divorce as reconcilable differences or just them drifting apart and breaking apart of the marriage. This has been done to ensure that the separation process isn’t as hostile as there is no blame game involved.
So, Is Florida a no-fault marriage state? Yes, it is. This means that one cannot file for divorce on the grounds of adultery but it can play an important part in other proceedings of the divorce process, only if proven in court.
Effect of Adultery in Divorce:
As discussed above, adultery is not considered a valid grounds for divorce. So, what happens if you commit adultery? Or if your spouse cheats, what happens in a divorce?
It can prove to be. Divorce is a multi-layered process in the form of division of shared assets, alimony arrangements, child custody battles, etc. Each step is ugly and cut-throat.
If a spouse commits adultery, this multi-layered process gets more complex. Even though adultery may not have a direct connection to these proceedings but they do have the potential to affect them crucially. Let’s understand the various effects on divorce proceedings if a spouse commits adultery.
Division of Marital Estate:
Before getting into the division of assets if a spouse commits adultery, let’s first understand how the law facilitates the division of the marital estate.
A married couple is expected to share a house, car, investment in stocks and even debt. Shared assets and debts are also termed marital property. During a split, all of the above things need to be distributed.
If a spouse commits adultery, there is a lot of resentment and anger which can make the faithful spouse feel that their partner doesn’t deserve anything. To avoid conflict, there are two ways to do so by U.S. law.
The first option is a community distribution which states that all marital property needs to be divided into two equal parts. It is also referred to as the fifty-fifty division method.
The other is termed as the equitable division which enables the marital or shared property to be distributed in a fair manner as seemed fit by the judge, which means that said distribution need not be exactly equal. Florida falls in the later category, meaning that it is an equitable distribution state.
If a spouse commits adultery, it need not give him or her any disadvantage when it comes to the division of marital estate but it can in one circumstance.
If adultery is proven in court with the evidence that the cheating spouse was utilizing marital assets or finances to aid his or her affair, it can very well affect the property division. Booking hotel rooms, sponsoring trips, showering his or her paramour with lavish gifts, etc. all fall under this category and can be used to influence the judge’s decision while making decisions regarding property distribution.
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Does Adultery Affect Child Custody in Florida?
Child custody battles can be best understood as the legal fight between a divorcing parent to undertake the legal guardianship of their child or children.
The legal guardian appointed by the judge accepts responsibility for the child and undertakes major life decisions for him or her whole; the other might get allowed a decided amount of visiting hours per week or even be barred from interacting with his or her child. Child custody battles tend to get extremely competitive and have an extremely negative impact on both the divorcing parents and the child himself or herself.
The sole basis on which the results of child custody battles are decided is the “best interests of the child”. This is a highly subjective matter.
Both parents present their case in front of the judge to present to the court how they are eligible to take care of all the needs of the child meanwhile many chose to even point out why the other part isn’t. It is extremely crucial to ensure that you know what can be used for or against you in court.
If a spouse commits adultery and it is proven in court, it does not automatically decrease your chances of winning the custody battle, nor is it one of the main factors that are considered in court while making the decision. So, does adultery affect child custody in Florida?
As stated above the best interests of the child and his or her needs are the main focus but the moral fitness of the parents is also weighed into the decision. If a spouse commits adultery and the affair of the adulterous partner has caused major emotional damage to the child or caused any form of parental neglect, it can be used in court.
If the unfaithful spouse’s partner is an active part of his or her life, their effect on the child’s life can also be looked into. If said partner has a violent history, criminal records, or bad experiences with the child himself or herself, it can be used against the cheating partner.
Alimony can be defined as the decided sum of money to be paid by one spouse to the other, as decided by the court. It is mostly paid by the more financially stable spouse to the spouse who might have been formerly dependent on them.
If a spouse commits adultery, it does not impact the decision making when it comes to alimony unless and until the shared funds of the couple were used to aid the affair without the faithful spouse’s knowledge or if he or she faces a financial blow due to the affair.
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Things to Keep in Mind:
Divorce can get competitive to a point that it becomes unhealthy for everyone involved. It is extremely crucial to have a well-thought-out strategy in court.
If a spouse commits adultery, it is valid for the faithful partner to feel betrayed and angry but a projection of anger, irrespective of its reason, is not appreciated in court and frowned upon by the judge. It is important to keep one’s calm and discuss everything to be said or reciprocated in court with one’s attorney.
What if I committed adultery during my divorce? Another major thing to keep in mind is that getting divorced is not the same as filing for one. If a spouse gets involved or continues sexual relations with someone else other than his or her legal partner during the divorce process, it is still termed and seen as adultery by the state.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Is It Illegal to Cheat on Your Spouse in Florida?
Technically, yes. The state of Florida does state that living in adultery is, according to statute 798.01 a second-degree misdemeanour. Although it is illegal by the law, adultery is rarely to never prosecuted.
2. How to Prove Adultery in Florida?
If the accusations of adultery are brought up in court, they need to be backed by evidence that clearly points toward one spouse having sexual relations with someone other than his or her spouse.
Corroborating and circumstantial evidence can be used to back up one’s claim and make our stand stronger. Such evidence is hard to find and that is why many people hire private investigators for the same, which may not be pocket friendly for everyone.
3. Does Adultery Affect Child Custody in Florida?
Decisions of child custody battles are made on the basis of the best interests of the child alone. Irrespective of that, the moral fitness of both the parents are evaluated where adultery can play a crucial factor.
If the affair has caused emotional damage to the child or made the cheating spouse be neglectful towards his or her family, it can have a negative impact. Additionally, if the new partner has the potential to be an active part of the child’s life, their past can also be looked into.
4. If a Woman Commits Adultery What Is She Entitled To?
The court does not discriminate between male and female spouses. It factors in the financial condition, earning potential, and dependency throughout marriage while making decisions.
5. Is Florida a No-Fault Marriage State?
Yes, Florida is a no-fault marriage state. A no-fault marriage state allows a couple to file for divorce without presenting an “acceptable” reason, like before.
This means that irreconcilable differences or the marriage just breaking apart can be used as valid reasons or grounds for divorce. This has been done to reduce the negativity as there is no need of pointing fingers at anyone.
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Ending the Article:
Marriage is more than an emotional connection and promise between two people, it is also a legal contract that binds two people to be loyal to each other. A broken up marriage is not considered terminated until the legal formalities in the form of divorce are done as well. If a spouse commits adultery, the divorce process gets harder and more complicated.
Any chances of settlement are generally ruled over by the anger and resentment caused by the affair, and the trial gets more competitive and unpleasant. Divorce includes many layers like division of assets and debts, alimony, child custody etc.
Divorce is a challenging process but it can be handled well if one takes a well-researched and prepared step into it.